Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Sea Inside: Post 3

Q: Refer to your notes on camera technique, camera angles, and camera movement. What scenes, in particular, do you remember where the film technique underscored meaning and added to the message the director was sending? Describe the shot, its significance, and its meaning in detail.

A: There was one shot I remember that stood out to me. It was when Ramon was describing an allusion (the allusion was being played out while Ramon was narrating it). The transition was from him as the man who was forever unable to move, to a man that could get up and fly to the sea. The camera was panning his body from head to toe, and in the middle of it he started to move his hand. The camera kept panning, and then slowly zoomed out. The message the director was trying to give was a dream that Ramon was sending. It was done very well and it wasn't confusing like this could have easily been.

The Sea Inside: Post 2

Q: Compare and contrast The Sea Inside to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. What similarities and differences did you notice?
Similarities: both quadriplegics, both fantasized about death, both had many allusions, both men, both had families, both had an extreme opinion on their condition.
Differences: Believe it or not, I think that Ramon was more optimistic even though he was the one who wanted to die. Bauby just felt sorry for himself the whole time. But I think that Bauby had a greater respect for family than Ramon did.

Q: In your opinion, which is more powerful?
In my opinion,
The Sea Inside was much more powerful. Maybe I think this just because it was a movie, but I still took away a stronger message. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly first talked about his condition, and then he complained about his condition for the rest of the book. He did slip into his writing some creative allusions that he had, but that was probably the only interesting part of that whole reading experience. I did not take away as strong a message as I did with The Sea Inside. The movie gave many different perspectives from different characters, and all arguments that took place had something that I agreed with. I still think that it is wrong to want to die, but sometimes I would be leaning towards Ramon's request because of his extreme perspective on what life is. I felt like I had wasted time reading The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, but after watching the movie I was slightly moved.

The Sea Inside: Post 1

Q: What is your general reaction and response to the film?
A: At first while watching this film, I really disliked it. It was full of sorrow, and the message was against my morals. I do not believe in suicide or assisted suicide. I believe that God controls life in general, and killing anyone or one's self, means that whoever they are is playing God. I did however begin to see Ramon's point of view as the film went on. He posted a very good argument, and seemed very sure of what he was trying to do. He kept asking why everyone was so afraid of death, because it was coming sooner or later. Although I was unable to finish the very last part of the movie, I still disagree with Ramon's request to die. I also thought that Ramon was extremely self-centered, and sometimes completely oblivious to anyone's feelings but his own. Imagine what asking to die would do on the parents? On the rest of the family?

Q: What do you think of Ramon's request for assisted suicide, the court's response to him, and his individual actions?
A: I disagree with the request for assisted suicide, I believe it is morally wrong. The court's response however, was very bias. They said no, and they would hear nothing else because that law is the law, and it shouldn't be bent for anybody. I think that it is justice to hear what everyone has to say, and listen with an open mind and opinion. Ramon's individual actions were mostly inconsiderate of everyone around him. He played with two women's minds, dragged what family he had through the mud so he could die, and was most of the time, very rude. He did have his moments of kindness, at one point in the movie, his sister-in-law told him he had a heart of gold. I still disagree.

Q: What do you think of his friends who agreed to help him?
A: I think they were extremely tolerant. I believe that they are the one's with a heart of gold for helping a friend, even if he does want to die. Asking to die is an extreme request, and the fact that although they disagreed with his request, but still agreed to help him is amazing.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Outside Reading: Final, Part 2

Literary Review: Running With Scissors

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Running With Scissors,
By Augusten Burroughs is a great memoir that illustrates the life of a strong-willed person who knows what he believes in, and sticks with what he’s got. Having led a difficult life with his friends and family, Burroughs grew up developing his strength of mind which helped him survive many large obstacles that could have potentially destroyed him.
“‘Don’t you ever just feel like we’re chasing something? Something bigger. I don’t know, it’s like something that only you and I can see. Like we’re running, running, running?’” (290). This quote was said by Natalie, Augusten’s only close friend who understands him. The both of them had been through many of the same problems. Both were adopted by Dr. Finch, Augusten’s mother’s psychiatrist, and grew up with similar relationship issues. They had both been through a lot of hardships, and at some point in their life, felt if nothing could get better. This quote is a perfect example of how their minds work. Sometimes they feel trapped, with no one to trust or help them. They both however, have one great similarity that helps them get by from day to day: strong will power. They both know what they believe in, and they both stick to it no matter what problems they may face.
Augusten grew up with a distant father, and a psychotic mother. His mother put him through the most. She would take advantage of his kindness, and took him on her emotional roller coaster of a life. She gave him away to her shrink, and almost always brought him to tears with her psychotic episodes. He describes her as being completely self-absorbed. Augusten is always put second, but on the bright side, this helped him to become the strong man he was meant to become. After one of his mother’s crazy episodes, she is taken to a mental hospital in Vermont. She returns with a lumberjack looking man, and still somewhat crazy. Her partner, Dorothy explains to him: “‘Your mother feels strongly that God has brought them together. And that Cesar is going to be a part of our lives from now on” (208). This proves that his mother won’t even takes into consideration what Augusten might think, even on a situation as silly as this.
Although Augusten has been put through many different pains in his lifetime, everything worked out for him in the end. He became a successful writer, and also very wealthy. His mother ended up differently: “My mother lives alone in a small apartment on a river near the Massachusetts and New Hampshire border. Because of a major stroke, she is paralyzed on one side fo her body and is dependant on aids” (304). This proves that although Augusten was put through hell by his mother who always put herself first, the strong one always pulls through.
Augusten Burroughs always tried to be as strong as he could be. He led a very difficult life, he always felt like he was running, running running. He’s stopped running, and lives a fruitful life. What goes around, comes around.

Outside Reading: Final, Part 1

Final Summarization:
In the very last section of the book, Augusten is mortified and feels humiliated because he wrote a gay note to a straight stranger that he met at a gas station. He fears that the stranger and his friends are going to make a lot of crank calls to his mother's apartment and nothing good will result from this. The middle of this section is the good times that Natalie and Augusten have. They go whale watching, eat lobster, stay in a hotel, trashes the hotel when Natalie finds out that the maid stole her earrings, and just enjoy being friends. Towards the end Augusten's mom comes to meet him and tells him the truth about everything. Her "eyes are not wild" and for the first time in a long time he believes everything she says. She tells him that she had been raped by Dr. Finch, and realizes that he had completely take advantage of not only her, but her money and what little family she had. Then Augusten ran away from the Finch's home without telling Natalie or anyone else where he was. Then he decides to leave, he calls Natalie and invites her to come with, but she can't leave her family. Despite this, he knows that he has to leave, and does anyway. He had such a great friendship with Natalie, and he threw it away because of what he believes. This really amazes me, and this is why I really enjoyed this book. Augusten had been through so much, but still has the presence of mind to know what he believes in, and stick to it.
The very ending of this book was probably my favorite part. It tells what everyone is/was doing close to before the book was published. I noticed that Augusten, his brother, and Natalie were the most successful out of all of the characters. This made me very happy. These three, in my opinion, have hearts of gold, and in the long run everything worked out for them. What goes around comes around.

Outside Reading: Week 5

In this section of Running With Scissors, the lumberjack looking man was kicked out of Deidre’s house and sent to live with the Finch’s until he found another place to live. Before he was kicked out however, Augusten woke up one night to find that this strange man was trying to rape him. Augusten pushed him off and he luckily left him alone. While living at the Finch’s house, Natalie had sex with him for not very much money. It turns out that everyone who had sex with him started to get a itchy feeling in the genital area. It however is not serious and is eventually forgotten.
Later, Natalie and Augusten decide to take the money that Natalie earned by sleeping with the foreigner to McDonald’s. They then decide to get high off of marijuana, and walk under a waterfall on the property of Smith College.
The Finch family is becoming more and more afraid of the recent shortage of money. So because of this, they decide to sell many of the things they don’t use at a garage sale. They however get sidetracked and take the whole family room outside and set it up just as it was inside the house. They live outside for awhile and amuse passing cars.
Next, Augusten goes to visit his mother and Dorothy. When he arrives, he finds that all the lights are on in the house and the front door is open. This time, both of them have gone crazy. Augusten calls Dr. Finch’s but only Hope is able to come and help. They call the police and Deidre and Dorothy are taken away. Dr. Finch decides to take Deidre to a motel away from everything. There, she finds a waitress that helps her through this psychotic episode. Winnie Pye (the waitress) takes Deidre away from Dr. Finch for awhile, and when her episode ends she returns home.
Finally in this section, Bookman runs away and is never found again. At two in the morning, he came into Augusten’s bedroom to tell him that he was going to go to the store to purchase some film for his camera. Hope helps Augusten search for Bookman for a very long time, but they both eventually give up. After he is over Bookman, he decides that he wants a new boyfriend. He makes it very clear that he doesn’t want a sex partner, but a real boyfriend. He writes a note to a guy he saw in a gas station, but finds out that he is straight. He is devastated and ceases to search for another boyfriend.

Personal Reaction:

I am still really enjoying this book although I do not agree with most of the content. I am starting to notice however that the book is slowing down. He seems to be more depressed than usual, and the section was rather uneventful. I am happy that Bookman has left the picture, he was too moody for Augusten. Augusten has enough emotions to deal with as it is, and Bookman served nothing but a sex object anyway. I agree with Hope earlier that their relationship was immature, and it needed to end.
In the beginning of the section when the lumberjack person was sleeping with many of the characters, it kind of bothered me. I mean it's good that everyone in this story is so accepting, but going as far as having sex with him was just disgusting. Showing hospitality is one thing, but Natalie went way to far. If I recall correctly she only earned twenty dollars after the morally wrong affair.
I also dislike the drug abuse in the memoir. Being very against it myself, hearing the opinion of someone being high after smoking marijuana is not exactly fun to listen to. It is however interesting to hear the perspective of someone under the influence of illegal drugs.
Other than the flaws mentioned, this book is still a smooth read. Everything flows together which still makes it enjoyable.

Outside Reading: Week 4, Part 2


In the beginning of this section of Running With Scissors, Neil Bookman and Augusten have another sexual episode. The larger part of this section however consists of Natalie and Augusten practicing singing and deciding where to preform their first gig. Hope starts to become jealous of all the time they’re spending together. They finally decide to preform at a mental ward. While they are preforming, an audience member spits at Natalie, and because of the environment that Natalie grew up in, she spits back.
The next part of this section focuses on Hope. She begins to have a serious break down, but is pulled out of it by Dr. Finch. It begins with Hope convincing herself that the family cat is deathly sick with “kitty leukemia” and ends up sleeping next to it in the basement for quite some time. She keeps the cat under a laundry basket and doesn’t feed it. It does eventually die, but Augusten believes it died of starvation and not from the kitty leukemia. She buries the cat under a tree. She later tries to dig it back up, but Natalie called Dr. Finch and he talked her out of it. After talking to the doctor she went upstairs to take a nap and was then finished with her break down.
Towards the ending of this section, Natalie and Neil get in a quick but verbally destructive argument. This isn’t uncommon, cussing and using distasteful words is apart of the Finch’s everyday language. In this argument, Hope tells Neil that the relationship that he and Augusten share is immature and fake, but this is only because Neil was making fun of the fact that Hope hadn’t had sex in a long time. Bookman becomes a little hurt by this because he thinks that Augusten is his one and only love and that it will last forever. This leads to more sexual intercourse between Bookman and Augusten.
Augusten had been preparing quite sometime now for beauty school. He really wants to pass so he can be a manager of some sort of salon. He practices on Bookman, but fails and ends up turning his hair green in the attempt of turning it blonde.
This section ends with Augusten’s mother ending her relationship with Fern and starting a new one with one of Dr. Finch’s new patients. Her name is Dorothy, and she quickly moves into Deidre’s house. Dorothy is much younger, and obeys everything Deidre orders. This does not surprise Augusten, nor does it surprise him that after his mother took a visit to an asylum, she came back with a strange foreigner that to Augusten looks like a lumberjack. It is implied that he is having sex with both Deidre and Dorothy.

Outside Reading: Week 4, Part 1

Quote from Running With Scissors:

"I went out to the back door into the yard. The crystal stemware was shattered, and glittered in the grass. Light from the kitchen glinted off the sterling forks, knives and spoons that were scattered everywhere. It gave the yard the magical look of a set. And I would not have been at all surprised to see Marie Osmond rise from the ground in a white sequined dress, singing 'Paper Roses'" (238).

This quote really relates to the author's personality. Augusten Burroughs is always in a horrific position. Whether it's his mother is having a psychotic episode, or a strange man is attempting to rape him. Augusten is always put into circumstances such as these that make his life complete. This is how it always has been for him. The quote tells us that there is expensive tableware scattered all over the lawn, probably a result from one of his mother's psychotic episodes. This scene would sadden most people fairly deeply, but Augusten has dealt with this his whole life, and is able to find beauty and peace in this sad yet common event. He sees how the forks, knives, and spoons look pretty because of the way the light is shining off of them. He related the tragic episode to something he would enjoy thinking about.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Diving Bell and The Butterfly Reaction

I really did not enjoy this book. It pains me to have to write my reaction about it because my reaction is very plain and easy to understand. The Diving Bell and The Butterfly was all about a paralyzed man who felt bad for himself. I am not trying to sound like I have a heart made of stone, but a certain point is reached where enough is enough.
In the beginning, I too felt bad. What would life be like? Knowing that the rest of your life would be spent lying or sitting, unable to speak, or eat, or laugh, the list goes on. This man was torn away from everything he loved in a matter of seconds. A potentially deadly stroke, and everything you loved is out of your reach. The fact that he was able to write a memoir is both inspiring and humbling. All of this feeling however, started and ended within the first three, very short chapters.
After getting over the feeling of pity and sadness, I started to realize how depressing the entire book was. The whole story was him wishing his life was back to normal, and how it never would be. For me, reading a depressing book is fine, but this book was depressing to the point where I felt should fall onto my knees and praise God for all that I have. I do that at church every Sunday, so that was not really necessary.
I'm sorry he had a stroke, but I didn't take any message from this story. Which, when you think about it, is usually the whole point of a book, right?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Outside Reading: Week 3, Part 2

Journal Entry, Reaction to Running With Scissors

So far I have enjoyed this book very much, although some content may be slightly disturbing. Ok, really disturbing, but for some reason I cannot put this book down. It surprises me that although Augusten Burroughs may have very little education, he still is a very talented writer. There has yet to be a dull chapter, or rather, dull moment.
I am very fond of most of the characters in the memoir, especially the Finch family. I look up to them because of how accepting they are. To them, differences don't matter. Rather than skin deep, the Finch's look for morals and views. I personally do not agree with some of their morals or views, but it is comforting to read that at least Burroughs got to live his complicated life with people who understand.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Outside Reading: Week 3, Part 1

1) Summarization:
In this section of Running With Scissors, Augusten explains much about his older brother Troy. He had always been very fond of his brother, even though they are extremely different in personality. While Augusten may have been polishing mood rings, Troy was busy designing guitars, or following a caboose on a train. They do scare the same opinion that their mother is crazy, but other than that they are worlds apart. Augusten explains that he probably got most of his mother’s genes, in being creative and an “outside of the box” thinker. Troy got most of this fathers, mostly expressionless, and enjoys being alone.
This section however mostly focuses on Augusten and Neil Bookman’s now sexual relationship. It is more sexual than anything else. Augusten does not believe in their relationship outside of the bedroom. Neil becomes very attached to Augusten, it is almost obsessive. Neil says that he would kill himself if Augusten ever left him. This is a major turn off for Augusten. He tries to create distance by being verbally abusive to Neil, but is appears that he may enjoying it instead of capturing the black and white message Augusten is trying to give him.
The ending of this section closes with a faked suicide and a cathedral ceiling in the kitchen. Augusten explains to Dr. Finch that he can no longer go to school. He hates everyone there and explains that he will never fit in. The doctor and his mother help him in faking suicide, and then tell the school that he will have to remain under the doctor’s supervision for a matter of months. The school eventually stops calling, and Augusten feels free. Finally, Auguaten and Natalie agree that the ceiling in the kitchen has to go because of how low it is. The tear it apart, and built their own cathedral-type ceiling with a sun roof. Everyone in the house doesn’t seem surprised at all, and continues on with their daily lives. No one questions them, and hardly comments on their project. When they are finished however, Anges complains on the constant leaking. Everyone else is happy with the new light coming into the kitchen.

2) Research/Biography: Author of Running With Scissors
Image found: at this website.
All information found: at this website.

Augusten Burroughs, born Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was raised in western Massachusetts. He presently lives with his partner Dennis in New York City and also in western Massachusettes.

Besides Running With Scissors: A Memoir, Burroughs has also written
Magical Thinking: True Stories, Dry: A Memoir, and Sellevision, a novel. Two of which are major motion pictures. Much of his writing has also appeared in newspapers and magazines all around the globe.

Outside Reading: Week 2

1) Summary 2: Pgs. 53-104
Augusten is spending more and more time with the Finches. He however is still not used to how they live. The house is very dirty and messy. Dr. Finch’s wife, Anges, is the only person who makes an attempt at cleaning the house, but usually doesn’t make a dent in the filth. Although the house may be disgusting to many, the Finch’s enjoy living this way. It is honest and homy. Another aspect of the Finch’s life that Augusten has to come accustom to is Dr. Finch’s extra lovers besides his wife Anges. Anges knows about the doctor’s affairs and dislikes all of them, but at the same time accepts it. She finds comfort in knowing that she is Dr. Finch’s fist choice because he is married to her.
Now Augusten is introduced to another member of the household. She is a patient of Dr. Finch. She is very old, and has never left her bedroom since she moved in. She is however expected to move in a few months.
A very important fact from this section of the book, is that Augusten has admitted to Hope that he is homosexual. Hope is not surprised at all, which surprises Augusten. Hope explains that she had expected it long ago, and not to worry. Her adopted brother, Neil Bookman, is also gay, and Hope gives him a call to talk to Augusten and to answer any questions he may have. He is expected to visit the house soon. Hope also introduces “Bible Dipping” to Augusten. It is a way to ask questions to God, and get a quick reply by pointing at a word in the Bible. Hope does this more than anyone in the Finch house.
Another important scenario presented in this section of the book, is that Augusten’s mother is also found to be homosexual. Augusten finds this out by visiting his mother to ask for money. He had walked into the house to find his mother and Fern Stewart, a minister’s wife, performing sexual acts in his family room. Fern feels guilty and immediately leaves crying, while his mother acts as if nothing is out of the ordinary. Because of this happenstance, Augusten feels encouraged to spend more time at the Finch’s house, away from his self-absorbed mother and her lesbian affairs.

2) 10 Connotative "Loaded" Words
a) pg. 02: cigarettes- elegance.
b) pg. 06: pacing- nervousness.
c) pg. 10: albums- cleanliness.
d) pg. 14: station wagon- middle class.
e) pg. 18: blank expression- unemotional nature.
d) pg. 22: Sanka (beverage)- hospitality.
f) pg. 26: doctor- wealth.
g) pg. 30: school- trouble, agony.
h) pg. 34: cigarette- getting rid of aggression, calm.
i) pg. 42: older- trustworthy.

3) Journal Post: Reaction of This Week's Reading
I think that Augusten is going to learn to love the Finch's. He has never been around anyone like the Finch children, so his first opinion is negative. Augusten is still very uptight, but this new family is sure to change his morals and views on life in general.

Outside Reading: Week 1

Running With Scissors
By: Augusten Burroughs
A Memoir

I have already finished the memoir. I will still however be posting blogs according to the six sections I have divided it into (by pages):
1) 1-52
2) 53-104
3) 105-156
4) 157-208
5) 209-260
6) 261-315

Summary 1: Pgs. 1-52

The beginning of Running With Scissors is basically a background explanation of Augusten Burroughs (the author) and what he grew up around. He lives with his parents Deidre and Norman who are verbally and physically abusive towards one another. Augusten is usually witness to all of the violence that takes place in the household. They are seeing a psychiatrist known as Dr. Finch to try and repair, or rather control, their marriage. Eventually they divorce, and it is implied that Augusten will never hear from his father again. Now living with only his mother, Augusten expresses the depression he felt during this time. His mother continues to see her shrink Dr. Finch, and Augusten ends up staying at his house for weeks at a time. Because of this, his mother is becoming more and more distant from him. Auguesten does not like it there, for he stresses to keep himself clean and perfect, while the Finch’s act quite the opposite. The house is very messy, dirty, and disorganized. The Finch Family consists of the doctor’s two daughters, Natalie and Vickie, and his wife, Agnes. Augusten expresses the fact that he hates school and skips it as much as possible.